Amph 60+ Years of James Bond 007 (incl. Bond 25)

Discussion in 'Community' started by Ender Sai, Dec 1, 2012.

  1. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    [IMG]

    A View to a Kill (1985)

    Behind the scenes

    This movie was initially teased, in the "James Bond Will Return" tag on Octopussy, as "From a View to a Kill," the name of the original short story. For the actual film, the producers dropped the first word, probably to make it marginally less awkward to drop into random dialogue, which doesn't matter much, since it was purely stealing the title and the story had nothing to do with Fleming's short story anyway. The script was another Maibaum/Wilson product, and Wilson got his first co-credit with Broccoli as producers.

    As ever, Moore had to be signed again for the film. He was signed, and he was 57 when the film came out -- sixteen years older than Connery had been when he bowed out for good. Moore himself admits now that he was much too old for the role, and was horrified even at the time, when he realized that he was older than his leading lady's mother. It was Moore's final Bond film, bringing his total to seven -- one more than Connery, and still more than any other actor to date. At the time, Moore had been Bond for fully half of the films, and more than half of the series' real-world duration.

    For the villain, the producers originally went after singer-actors David Bowie and Sting, but couldn't get either. They settled for Christopher Walken, the first ever Oscar-winner to appear in a Bond film. Cast as the main Bond girl was ex-Charlie's Angel Tanya Roberts. Grace Jones was cast as May Day, giving the producers their singer-actor -- but Moore couldn't stand her. The casting did lead to Dolph Lundgren's first-ever film role, though. He was dating Jones at the time, for unexplained reasons, and was on-set when they needed an extra KGB heavy. Lundgren looked the part and stepped in.

    [IMG]

    Duran Duran got the theme song in a step outside the series' usual comfort zone. The song was a big success on the charts, helping lead the series to embrace more popular music in the future.

    On release, the film was a financial success, but it was the lowest-grossing Bond film since The Man with the Golden Gun, and critical opinion was sour. Like Moore, the public was ready to move on.

    Plot

    The film opens with 007 in Russia, recovering a microchip from the body of 003. MI6 finds the microchip to be a copy of one created by government contractor Zorin Industries. To find out why the Soviets have copies of Zorin equipment, Bond investigates Zorin, who is involved in horse racing and breeding. Bond meets with a French private detective, who tells him about suspicions that Zorin is doping his horses, but the detective is killed mid-conversation by an assassin who escapes. Bond follows up by attending an auction at Zorin's stables, where he finds that Zorin gave a woman a check and finds out that Zorin is in fact doping his horses. Zorin figures out that Bond is a spy, and with his henchwoman May Day tries to kill him; Bond lets Zorin think he has succeeded.

    [IMG]

    Bond then goes to San Francisco to check on Zorin's business, where his CIA contact tells him that Zorin is suspected of being an East German experiment, and runs into the KGB also spying on Zorin -- who is actually a KGB asset in the process of going rogue. Bond then runs into Stacey Sutton, the woman Zorin had paid. He follows her and stops an attempt on her life, learning that Zorin is trying to buy out her oil company but she refuses to take his money. They go to city hall to check on Zorin's operations, but he catches them and almost kills them again.

    Bond and Stacey then go to Zorin's mine outside town, where they discover that he intends to flood the San Andreas and Hayward faults and set off an explosion that will trigger a massive earthquake -- wiping out Silicon Valley and all Zorin's microchip competition. Bond is trapped in the flooded mine, as is May Day, who stops fighting him when she realizes that Zorin left her to die. They work together to defuse the bomb, and when they cannot do so in time, she runs it outside the mine, sacrificing herself to foil Zorin's plan. Zorin is escaping in a blimp and captures Stacey. Bond grabs on to a mooring rope, which, as the blimp flies along, he manages to tangle on the Golden Gate Bridge. Zorin gets out, fights Bond on top of the bridge, and dies. Happy ending!

    Bond himself

    Moore is older than dirt and shows no interest in the role. He didn't like Jones and didn't feel any chemistry with Roberts -- which is probably good, given that he's twenty-eight years older than her. Moore never should have come back for this -- he's completely sleepwalking through the movie in a soft-pedaled role. He has a little bit of fun here and there, but mostly it seems that he's just in it because he doesn't know what else to do. Moore doesn't like the movie now, and doesn't appear to have liked it then. He hung on too long, and the result is an ugly exit.

    How it fits into the series

    Like Octopussy, it's another example of Moore at his bored, toothless worst. He's checked out of the series mentally already, and after it he finally checks out physically, after obstructing the rise of Dalton for far too long.

    So in the long term, we can thank the movie for getting Moore out of the role finally. EON stuck with a declining performer in a diminishing-returns formula for too long, and the result was that the crappiness boiled over to the point that we got a sharp and, finally, committed turn in a different direction with the tragically short Dalton era. Moore had the longest run in years and films of any Bond actor, defining the character for a certain generation of fans. They have my sympathies.

    [IMG]

    I shall give a more loving role-obituary to Lois Maxwell, who performed as Miss Moneypenny for the last time in this film. The last actor to be there from the very beginning, she had performed all along, with Connery, Lazenby, and her old friend Moore. When Moore went, Maxwell, even older than Moore at 58, went voluntarily as well, having aged past the point of compatibility with whoever the future Bond would be. The original, definitive, and lovely Moneypenny, she yielded the role with the hope, endorsed by Moore, that she might move up to become the next M. Though we did get a female M a few movies down the line, it was not Maxwell, nor was the character retired from the screen as she hoped. Moneypenny was recast, as Bond was, rather than replaced with a new character such as Smallbone. She largely retired from acting afterward, and died at age eighty in 2007.

    Review


    All the while I was watching A View to a Kill, I was mostly reminded of other Bond movies. A government contractor is leaking equipment to the bad guys because he's actually a bad guy himself, plus he lives like a dandy in a French villa, just like Moonraker. The villain is a supposed staunch anti-Communist who's actually a Communist agent, just like For Your Eyes Only. The villain wants to establish a monopoly by destroying his competitors through the use of a big bomb, just like a combination of Live and Let Die and Goldfinger. It's an end of an actor's run where no one appears to really care that much about the product and it just kind of meanders campily and lazily through some stuff until it ends, just like Diamonds Are Forever. But for all that, A View to a Kill doesn't flop as badly as it ought to, for a Moore entry. It's dull – Moore only has three films that can bring me beyond apathy, despite all the camp – it's dumb, and it's weird. But for as dire as its reputation is, it never goes off the rails as badly as Moonraker or Live and Let Die, and unlike Octopussy, it actually has something going for it. That something is Christopher Walken.

    Walken is awesome. He's weird in exactly the right way for a Bond villain. As Zorin, he sails around the screen with supreme confidence, a sense that he's having fun, and a certain detached sense of superiority, like he's in on a private joke. His Zorin is a genuine psychopath, and he inhabits that crazed killer vibe. I love the way he laughs when he's machine-gunning his own helpless employees down purely for ****s and giggles. It's not your usual maniacal movie madman laugh. He's just kind of chuckling to himself indulgently, like he's watching his daughter in the school play. But he's not acting like a crazy killer the vast majority of the time – he's acting like a genuine psychopath, smug and detached. He's your normal classy tycoon the whole time, seeming personable, but with just the right unsettling edge of a guy sneering inside at how superior he is to everyone else and completely impervious to actual emotion. I'm guessing Walken took the role seriously and did research for it, because he really is great. The sadistic psychopathy also gives Zorin an excuse to want to do most of his dirty work himself rather than leave it to henchmen, which puts Walken on the screen more. All to the film's benefit. I'd never seen AVTAK before now, and I didn't even like the movie. But Zorin's one of my favorite Bond villains now. It's too bad he's trapped in such a lousy movie.

    [IMG]

    The background used to get us psychopath Zorin is rather extraneous – he's a Soviet superman experiment whose psychopathy was a result of his exposure to steroids, who was planted in the West by the KGB under cover as an East German escapee, and became a microchip tycoon with a strong defense-contracting presence and a reputation as an anti-Communist. In the course of the movie, he declares himself independent of his KGB masters, apparently seduced by the potential to profit on his own. All that complex backstory hints at a really interesting character, but it's never really exploited in the film. It's essentially a really complex excuse to have him be a psychopath, as if he needed one, and also General Gogol gets an excuse to show up. The conflict between Zorin and the KGB doesn't come to much of anything. Zorin doesn't appear particularly influenced by any of that background information. The one interesting thing is that they throw in the East German doctor who experimented on him, and Walken's performance hints at a sort of twisted father/son relationship, but really all the doctor is there for is to randomly dope horses now for no particular reason, and to die in the explosion at the end. Now, if instead of falling back, the monocled German mad doctor had actually started hurling dynamite from the doorway of a blimp, like the most awesome old-school video game boss ever, this movie would basically get a free pass, but he didn't throw it, so it doesn't.

    Zorin isn't the sole thing the movie has going for it, just the main thing. There's a certain sense of freshness to some of the elements – it's a haphazard collection of elements executed without much in the way of passion, but there's just enough sense of energy and newness to some of it that it pops out as a little beyond the usual dreary formula. The horse-racing/breeding element is one such thing. Objectively, it's bad craftsmanship – it gives Bond an excuse he doesn't need to look into Zorin, introduces a horse-doping scheme, and then leads absolutely nowhere. When the fact that Zorin is doping his horses comes up, and a giant dope factory is revealed, you think the logical next step is that Zorin's building some kind of steroid army. Nope. The adrenaline steroid things must be all for the horses, because actually Zorin's plan is completely unrelated to anything to do with this side scheme and nothing learned here has any importance whatsoever. Swell. But the fact of the matter is, giving everyone an excuse to show up at Ascot in morning dress, then have Bond go to Zorin's gorgeous estate and have all this horse business adding flavor to the usual society stuff, it all works to spice up the material and put a new twist on an old element. The most fun is Bond's patter with Sir Godfrey, a knighted MI6 higher-up who poses as Bond's manservant throughout the villa sequence, which gives us a great chance for some social humor. It's a wholly new style of relationship that introduces a natural source of non-exaggerated, character-based comedy. At this point, it's remarkable how much one wholly new element to the series can serve to markedly freshen it up.

    Other than those positives, the movie is a mess. As narrative, it just kind of incoherently hopscotches around, introducing and discarding concepts as it sees fit. Bond finds a Zorin microchip in Russia, so he suspects Zorin, which leads to him . . . suspecting Zorin of horse doping, and investigating him for that, and then he also sees Zorin give someone a check. So he goes over to San Francisco with the vague idea of doing something, and starts investigating Zorin's operations and runs across some Soviets. The Soviets then disappear from the story while he runs into the check girl again, who it turns out isn't particularly relevant except as eye candy, and then he goes back to checking out Zorin and happens across Zorin's plan entirely by happenstance as it's being put into effect. It creates the illusion of a coherent plot, but really it's just rambling its way through setpieces and hoping you don't notice how irrelevant everything that happens before the climax is.

    And it's not as if the setpieces are that great. The action is mostly undistinguished. The skiing action feels, at this point, like an obligatory element for a Moore entry, and the switch to snowboarding, complete with crappy Beach Boys cover as a joke track, is just sad. The finale for that pre-credits sequence, Bond entering an apparently gigantic luxury sub disguised as an iceberg, is even sadder. Bond's magical half-car, which breaks neatly into two pieces upon merely being swiped, is one of the dumber gag-action concepts to date, and follows one of the lamest assassinations of all time, designed around a painfully uninteresting stage act Cubby saw once. The horse race thing makes absolutely no sense at any point whatsoever. I'll admit I liked Bond shotgunning guys in midair at Stacey's house. That worked. The escape from the burning elevator is passable, but leads to a hilariously overdramatic BIG FIRE RESCUE scene as he climbs down the ladder, and then to a police pursuit of Bond in a stolen, boringly "out of control" fire engine that ends with a dumb, slapsticky rising-bridge thing. The best thing about it is the fact that Bond, a wanted man, is still driving the fire truck around the next morning. He couldn't be bothered to switch to something a little less conspicuous. The climax is mediocre – the staging is good, but the movie doesn't do much with the Golden Gate fight or with Zorin. The dynamite-hurling monocled mad doctor could have saved it, but didn't.

    [IMG]

    May Day . . . is sort of a mixed element. It seems Grace Jones was just hired to be the weirdest person on planet Earth, and with her deliberately androgynous appearance, her clothes that appear to be from a low-budget sci-fi film, her strange makeup, her crazy hair, her random weird noises she makes sometimes . . . she fits the bill. On the one hand, it's kind of awesome, because you've just given Christopher Walken someone even weirder than he is to play off of. On the other hand, every frame she's in, you just spend the whole time thinking, "WHYYYYYYYYY?" and it's super-distracting without really adding anything other than excessive eightiesness. And it's not like anything done with the character is any better than her design. She has sex with Bond for absolutely no reason whatsoever. She comes around to cooperate with Bond at the very end, which is dumb but whatever . . . and then sacrifices herself inexplicably, which eliminates any slack I was willing to cut the last-minute conversion. Maybe it was how her people return to their home planet. And, really, she is part of the continuing racial problem of the Bond series thus far – the tendency to place black people in the role of freaks. We started off with Quarrel being superstitious and servile, and then graduated to a freak show in which a black person turns into a gorilla, along with the animalistic freak Thumper in DAF. LALD then had a "crazy black native people" sideshow led by Baron Samedi, plus the voodoo freak show in general on San Monique, plus the whole United Black Front approach overall. And now we get May Day as freak show. I don't know that it's deliberate, but it's certainly unfortunate. But, hey, at least she gets to throw a guy out of a blimp and then, in a perfect David Caruso shot, put her sunglasses on. So she's got that going for her.

    A few other notes: Stacey Sutton is one of the most forgettable Bond girls, and has no chemistry with Bond at all. Bond getting the Order of Lenin is super-ewwwwwww. Nothing about the final Q-watching-Bond-have-sex scene makes sense at all and it is awful. I chuckled heartily at the phrase "DOUBLE EARTHQUAKE!" as well as the frequent invocation of microchips as if they were some kind of magic dust. It was nice for Bond to have a history with the Soviet agent he runs into, but the Soviet element was completely pointless and I still don't know why the head of the KGB was her getaway driver in the middle of the United States. The credits sequence, with all the Duran and then even more Duran, and the crazy blacklight neon bodypaint, is probably the most terrifyingly eighties thing of all time, and needs to be stopped.

    A View to a Kill is a total mess, plotwise, and doesn't do much to make up for it with setpieces, characters, or anything else. What it does have going for it is the fact that it hovers around low-level disaster rather than devolving into total disastrous camp, it gets a sense of freshness in via the wonderful Jeeves-and-Wooster interplay with Sir Godfrey, and it has a stupendous villain who gets a ton of screen time. In the competitive world of crappy Bond movies, that keeps it a head above the worst of the competition.

    Rankings
    1. From Russia with Love
    2. On Her Majesty's Secret Service
    3. Dr. No
    4. For Your Eyes Only
    5. The Spy Who Loved Me
    6. Goldfinger
    7. Thunderball
    8. You Only Live Twice
    9. The Man with the Golden Gun
    10. A View to a Kill
    11. Diamonds Are Forever
    12. Octopussy
    13. Live and Let Die
    14. Moonraker
    Questions for discussion

    1. Who will be the first to tell me that I overrated it?
    2. Does Zorin work as a villain, or is the film around him too weak to even show him off?
    3. It's the end of the Moore era. Now is a time for reflection. What is your overall assessment of Moore as Bond? Who wants to revisit their rankings of characters, etc.? What is Moore's legacy as Bond?
    4. Reflections on Lois Maxwell?
    Last edited by Havac, Apr 26, 2013
    JoinTheSchwarz likes this.
  2. yankee8255 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 31, 2005
    star 6
    Remember how I said Octopussy is the only Bond movie I've only seen once? Well, this is the Bond movie I've never seen in it's entirety. I've channel surfed into it any number of times, can never stay with it more than 5 minutes. The combination of "older than dirt" sleepwalking Moore, chemistry of dirt Roberts and Grace Jones are unbearable. Though I would take issue with your accusations regarding her character -- get the impression she really is that much of a freak in real life, the clothes she wears in the movie are no more outlandish than what she otherwise wore at the time.

    Moving on o the questions, I'll have to skip 1+2 since I've never seen the whole thing.

    3. Like you said, Moore defines Bond for an awful lot of people. they know little of anything of the books, or don't care, and enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek nature of of the Bond run. They see Moore's Bond as quintessentially English/British, the perfect gentleman with the sharp sense of humor (as evidenced by painfully bad puns, which really calls their judgement into question). Honestly, I think history may have been kinder to him if he hadn't stayed on so long, seen the his era as a nice break that fit into the campiness of the 70s. But when he stretched that well into the 80s, it became absurd.

    4. Maxwell was perfect as Moneypenny. Her looks: attractive, but not hot. Coupled with her personality and humor, the kind of woman who could make a perfect wife for a successful husband (boy does that sound sexist, sorry). but who never has a chance with the man she really longs for.
  3. Jedi General Gelderd Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 6, 2004
    star 5
    'A View To A Kill' is my second favourite Bond movie. There. Said it. I won't deny it! [face_not_talking]

    I'll dive straight into your questions (god knows why I never found this thread sooner being a Bond fan more than Star Wars!)

    1. Not me - I agree with your strong points and weak points. I think it's one of the under-rated films, and the factors against it really hurt like Moore's age for one and some of the cardboard characters. Saying that, the strengths really carry the film and make it brilliant. The action sequences are executed really well and have some excellent stuntwork, a standout is the Paris parachute / car chase in the opening scenes. That and the Golden Gate Bridge finale are my favourites. Leading to your next point...

    2. Christopher Walken as Max Zorin elevates this film to higher standards, and think without him it would have one less strength to depend on and win people round with. He's the greatest Bond villain of the series - he's real, yet totally outrageous but very deadly, manical and clever. The perfect mix. No-one could have pulled Zorin off like Walken, and thank god David Bowie turned it down! It's the moments he changes from content, to angry, and back again in a heartbeat and we can see it in his facial expressions, his little purses of the mouth and grumbles to himself.

    The moment when he chuckles as he's about to fall to his death speak volumes about him!

    3. Moore was the longest serving James Bond. He had more generations grow with him than anyother actor and he took the film through the 70s into the mid 80s with great success. I think his films encompass a more family friendly approach to Bond, which isn't a bad thing. More fans of a younger age can connect and enjoy Moore as Bond easier than others, and then branch out to other hardcore Bond portrayals should they wish.

    He had the most fun, and that sense I find Moore's films the easiest to watch when I want an easy Bond adventure, one that I don't really need to focus my brain on for more than 2 hours and think about all the twists, turns, betrayals and politics some of the recent Bond films suffer from. Fun, escapist adventure was what Moore brought to us, and I'll be eternally thankful we had him for so long and he crafted the character as his own.

    4. Lois Maxwell was strong in every film she was in, this is no different in 'AVTAK' than 'DN' 23 years before. She has been ever faithful and sweet as Moneypenny and helped us feel right at home in the Bond films with Connery, Lazenby and Moore. But as she too was evidently getting older, she'd seen so much with her 3 actors I think it right she bowed out ready for a new change which I think she new was coming with the help of the producers, and there was no chance her Moneypenny would have been the one suitable for Dalton, Brosnan and Craig. A brilliant actress, very much missed and one who really was the glue keeping the Bond family on screen together.
  4. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 10
    Erm. How?

    They changed it and made it a tiny bit of Octopussy's backstory...

    Havac. You overrated it.
  5. dp4m Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 2001
    star 10
    I prefer Octopussy to A View to a Kill. Despite the presence of MacNee.
  6. JoinTheSchwarz JC Head Admin & Community Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Nov 21, 2002
    star 8
    Both are criminally bad, but I like AVTAK better.

    1. From Russia with Love
    2. On Her Majesty's Secret Service
    3. Goldfinger
    4. For Your Eyes Only
    5. Dr. No
    6. The Spy Who Loved Me
    7. You Only Live Twice
    8. Thunderball
    9. The Man with the Golden Gun
    10. A View to a Kill
    11. Octopussy
    12. Diamonds Are Forever
    13. Live and Let Die
    14. Moonraker

    I might have to reconsider and reorder the five last items. It doesn't feel right to have Octopussy rated higher than Moonraker.
  7. Merlin_Ambrosius69 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 2008
    star 5
    I wrote that it "does justice to the Fleming story" and I stand by that regardless of the changes. The scene at Southeby's is directly based on the short story "A Property of a Lady". and is a fairly close rendition of that brief narrative. The rest of the script is invented (except for Khan's reaction to the backgammon game, which is taken from the Moonraker novel), but I think it does a good job of using "Property" as a springboard for a bigger story.
  8. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    1. Eh, E_S already did, but taking Moore's collected works, I don't think you have. Anything in AVTAK is better than the often mentioned random Beach Boys clip.

    2. He works, but I think the whole "Nazi superman" angle was overplayed. Because that angle acts as an excuse for his homicidal behavior. Would he have been even more effective with a different origin? Was the character originally written as such?

    3.This is the movie that had a great influence on Moore locking in his retirement and not doing "one more," despite him getting his largest paycheck, at least based on the DVD extras, when he mentions that he felt really awkward pursuing Roberts, especially since when her mother visited the set, Moore was the same age or older than her mom.

    4. Everyone else has summarized her expertly. I wish she did bridge the Bond movies for a couple more, at least for the 2 Dalton movies, and although it might have been a stretch, being included in Goldeneye.
  9. I Are The Internets Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 20, 2012
    star 8
    Octopussy was a lot of fun when I first saw it. It's so ridiculously stupid that I couldn't help but enjoy it. AVTAK was forgettable and dull save for the always great Christopher Walken.
  10. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 10
    Right, except Octopussy was about Bond catching up to Maj. Dexter Smythe, which is briefly referenced by Octopussy as her father. Hence my confusion.
  11. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Oh, the weirdness was definitely her real-life gimmick, it's just that she specifically was cast to bring that weirdness in -- it's just a sort of recurring problem that blacks have only been cast in "weird," blaxploitation, and yessir-nosir roles. The series has yet to cast a black actor or actress in a "normal" role -- a regular American Bond girl, or an ally with agency of his or her own, a non-blaxploitation villain, that kind of thing. And unless I'm forgetting someone, it would be all the way until 2002 with Halle Berry in DAD that we got such a casting decision.

    That's what you say now, but then you'll do it, and go, "Gee, it doesn't feel right to have anything below Moonraker." There are just too many terrible Bond films. The bottom five are all tragically bad, and in such different ways -- they all deserve to be at the bottom of the list.

    Yeah, the superman thing is weird. It's potentially interesting, but they don't go anywhere with it. Supposedly he was jazzed up on steroids early in his development, yet we don't see him display any special strength in his fight with Bond. Supposedly it made him a psychopath, but the character doesn't need a complex backstory to be a psychopath. He's ex-KGB, so we get a scene with General Gogol, but then the KGB never comes into the story again -- it's just another story element thrown into the meaningless mishmash we get until everything that's actually important to Bond figuring anything out happens right at the end. If they were going to give him the backstory, they should have done something with it; if they weren't going to do anything with it, they should have simplified it.
  12. drg4 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2005
    star 4
    Unfortunately, it would be all the way until 2012 with Naomi Harris in Skyfall that we got a well-advised casting decision.

    Regarding AVAK, I share Roger Moore's dismay at the mine-slaughter sequence. What might have worked in a Dalton installment is just too grisly and discomfiting for such a silly movie. Better that the massacre occur offscreen.
  13. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Yeah, it's weird and disturbing and doesn't really work and it goes on forever -- but Walken is great during it, and I think it would work as a disturbing example of his psychopathy if it were shorter and edited a little more tastefully.
  14. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Much too late to edit, but on Naomie Harris, you're overlooking Jeffrey Wright, the first truly great Leiter.
    JoinTheSchwarz likes this.
  15. drg4 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2005
    star 4
    Havoc: My mind was focused on the female roles, but you're absolutely right. Up to that point, Jack Lord was the only actor not to embarass himself, and then came Wright, who was just fantastic (as is every actor in the Craig era). I do hope his Leiter returns.

    Slight digression: I just watched Thunderball last night, and realized the movie would benefit tremendously if all the Connery-health spa nonsense was expunged from the first act. Shaves off at least 10 minutes, transporting us to the Caribbean that much sooner. I wish I had the technology to craft a fan edit.
    Last edited by drg4, Apr 28, 2013
  16. Likewater Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2009
    star 4
    I have Seen a View to a Kill multiple times ans it always left me feeling weird.

    I find James Bond having a very international feeling. he travels to many many countries, A few to a kill feels very American?

    It feels off like the Space one (Its name escapes me at the moment)
  17. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Yeah, that's the most incoherent/unnecessary part.
  18. DarthLowBudget Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 17, 2004
    star 5
    How is this sentence possible?
    Darth_Invidious likes this.
  19. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 10
    The novel explains it better, but the changes made to the film make it unclear as to why you need it.

    It has some gorgeous car porn in the background!
  20. drg4 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2005
    star 4
    In the novel, does Bond spurn any prospect for a serious investigation in favor of screwing the physical therapist (repeatedly)? I'm curious, because the health spa, for me, is the precise juncture where the Bond franchise abandoned any aim for internal logic. He doesn't even call MI6 or interrogate the assassin! He locks him in a steamer and just leaves!
  21. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 10
    I suggest reading the book to find out.
  22. Arawn_Fenn Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 2004
    star 7
    It's certainly possible. But is it probable?
  23. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    [IMG]

    The Living Daylights (1987)

    Behind the scenes

    It is disputed whether Moore, technically, retired or was fired after A View to a Kill. But the important thing is that Moore was out, and it was time for a new Bond. The producers considered several actors, including Kiwi Sam Neill, who got a positive response from Glen and the Broccoli family, but was vetoed by Cubby. Pierce Brosnan's wife, Cassandra Harris, had recommended him to Cubby Broccoli on the set of For Your Eyes Only, and he had met Cubby while she was working on the film. Serendipitously, Brosnan had just been freed up by the cancellation of his American TV series, Remington Steele, and Broccoli started looking in his direction. Brosnan screen-tested and was offered the role. With his casting as Bond, there was enough revived interest in Remington Steele for NBC to renew the series, which they did on the very last day allowed in their contract. Cubby did not want James Bond appearing on TV sets every week, thinking it would diminish the brand. He withdrew the deal and started looking elsewhere. Brosnan's de-casting, of course, diminished interest in the show, which was promptly re-canceled only a few episodes into the season.

    Timothy Dalton had been in the mix for decades, since the series was moving on from Connery. Dalton, then in his mid-twenties, had refused on the basis that he was too young for the role. He had remained on the producers' minds, and was again approached during the regular will-he-or-won't-he process of the later Moore years. He refused again, as Dalton was a legitimate Fleming fan and a fan of the Connery movies, and didn't care for the direction the series had taken in the seventies. Broccoli again came back to Dalton, and this time he accepted. Broccoli had to bring in another actor to screen-test in order to convince Dalton to actually sign a contract, but once things were sorted out, Dalton, now in his early forties, was on board to play a Bond more in the style of Fleming's original character.

    His leading lady was Maryam d'Abo, who had tested for A View to a Kill and been kept in mind afterward. Bond's ally in the film was originally intended to be General Gogol, but the Walter Gotell was ill and could not play the part. The new character of General Pushkin was created to be the new head of the KGB who would be set up by General Koskov. Out of respect, Gogol was not written out entirely, but was given a cameo at the end of the film, having transferred to the Foreign Service. John Rhys-Davies was cast as Pushkin, who was initially intended to be a recurring character. Caroline Bliss came on as the new Moneypenny, the first actress to attempt the role after Lois Maxwell originated it twenty-five years before.

    The idea of making the film a prequel was quickly dismissed, and the Maibaum-Wilson script instead moved on to the new Bond without comment (though the winking use of actors who resembled Moore and Lazenby as the other two 00 agents in the opening sequence, each shown before Dalton, was a small visual joke). It adapted the original Fleming short story from which it got its name relatively faithfully, using it as a jumping-off point for the rest of the story, which integrated the SMERSH concept in the modern context and showed off Dalton's harder-edged, Flemingesque Bond.

    [IMG]

    Speaking of Dalton's desire to return to tradition, one other important tradition returned in the form of Aston Martin. Moore's Bond had been issued Lotus Esprits when he was issued cars at all. Aston Martin had made its classic appearance in Goldfinger with the DB5, which returned in Thunderball, but it hadn't had a presence in the Bond film's since 1969, with Lazenby's DBS. For the first time in nearly twenty years, Bond was equipped with an Aston Martin, this time the contemporary V8 Vantage. It initially appeared as a Vantage Volante convertible before being "winterized" by Q Branch in the film and reappearing as a hardtop -- though after that time, rebranded V8s were used as stand-ins, rather than proper V8 Vantages.

    Following the success of Duran Duran's A View to a Kill, A-ha was brought on to provide the title song. They were the last artists to collaborate with John Barry on a Bond theme song, as the longtime Bond composer ended up moving on from the series after this. He did get a cameo as the maestro of the orchestra, however. The Pretenders had been considered for the title song, and in a new development for the series, Chrissie Hynde from the series created a song for the closing credits, as well as another song heard over Necros's headphones throughout the film.

    The film's release in 1987, the fifteenth of the series, marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of Bond's arrival in theaters. Prince Charles and Princess Diana attended the premiere, and the box office returned to the high levels the series had become accustomed to, becoming the fourth-highest-grossing Bond film at that time. Dalton's Bond took some knocks at the time, and he continues to take some now, but he also earned praise at the time, audiences liked the movie, and Dalton continues to be lauded by hardcore Bond fans.

    Plot

    The film opens with Bond on a training mission to Gibraltar with two other 00 agents. An infiltrator to the operation turns the exercise deadly, killing one of the other 00s and leaving a note bearing the Russian phrase Smiert Spionem -- Death to Spies. Afterward, Bond is sent to cover the defection of KGB General Koskov in Bratislava. Bond serves as a countersniper, assigned to take out Koskov's KGB minder, but when he realizes that the KGB sniper is the beautiful cellist from the orchestra he was just watching, he disobeys orders to kill her and shoots her rifle instead. Bond then smuggles Koskov into Austria, where he is taken into MI6 custody. During his debriefing, Koskov reveals that the new KGB director, General Pushkin, is a madman who has revived the Smiert Spionem project to kill Western agents, potentially escalating the Cold War. The assassin Necros strikes the estate where Koskov is being held, grabbing Koskov and extracting him, presumably back to the USSR.

    007 is assigned to stop Pushkin, but has a hard time believing that this is in Pushkin's character. He finds the cellist and quickly realizes that she is Koskov's girlfriend, and Koskov's defection was staged. Bond convinces the girl, Kara, that he is a friend of Koskov's sent to bring her to him, and escapes with her to Vienna. There, Bond's MI6 contact Saunders informs him of Koskov's link to Tangier arms dealer Brad Whitaker before Necros kills him. Bond and Kara go to Tangier, where Bond confronts Pushkin, who confirms that he is being set up by Koskov to stop his investigation of Koskov for embezzlement related to his dealings with Whitaker. Bond fakes Pushkin's death to bring Koskov into the open, but Kara has contacted Koskov, still thinking that she's going to be reunited with him in the West after a genuine defection, and Koskov told her that Bond was a KGB spy. She drugs him and lets Koskov capture him, but before Bond passes out, he reveals that he's a British agent, and proves it by telling her that it was he who shot her rifle when her boyfriend was setting her up to be killed.

    [IMG]

    Koskov and Whitaker take Bond to Afghanistan, where Koskov has been buying opium with the money he's supposed to be using to buy arms. He can sell the opium, buy the weapons with the proceeds, and still have profit left over. Koskov locks up Bond and Kara, but they escape and free Kamran Shah, the local Mujahideen leader. Shah arranges an attack on the Soviet base, which allows Bond to attempt to blow up Koskov's opium supply. Bond is stuck aboard a departing plane with Kara, Necros, and the bomb-rigged opium, and fights and kills Necros before dropping the bomb and saving Shah from Soviet pursuit. 007 then returns to Tangier and kills Whitaker, while Pushkin arrests Koskov. Bond keeps banging Kara.

    Bond himself

    A genuine Fleming fan, Dalton was clearly determined to get Bond right and bring him back to the spirit of Fleming's stories rather than the jokey caricature of the Moore years. Though Dalton can't control the occasional silly flourishes left over from the Moore years, he succeeds in bringing a dangerous, world-weary Bond to the screen. From his disgusted, "If he fires me, I'll thank him for it," to his cold fury at Saunders's death, Dalton is every bit the professional killer aware that he's losing his soul. I just wish he didn't dress down so much. Dalton's casual styles aren't as tacky as Moore's safari suits, but his Bond almost never wears a suit, and it does limit the character's feeling of sophistication terribly.

    [IMG]

    Dalton looks the part better than any other actor to play the role, he's a fantastic actor who's completely committed to the role, and the result is one of the best Bond performances in the series' long history. It's a tragedy that Dalton didn't have a longer run.

    How it fits into the series

    As the beginning of the all-too-abbreviated Dalton era, The Living Daylights doesn't entirely shake off the wacky Moore affectations -- slapstick like the cello case sled sequence is a painful intrusion -- but it moves a long way away from it. We've got the more Flemingesque Bond, we've got a shift away from doomsday scenarios and supervillains and toward more grounded, lower-stakes plots. The film is energetic and fresh. Moore's last entries felt worn-out -- Moore seemed bored in the role, but the series also seemed to be running out of ideas, grasping at straws. With Dalton passionate about the role and the writers discovering a new direction, there's a whole new sense of life in the film. The espionage-oriented, character-heavy film is reminiscent of early Connery, but it's not a conscious throwback in the sense that FYEO was -- it's an update, a movie that's very much of the eighties and not aping the glory days, but is determined to bring the important traits of the character and the core foci that made the classic stories work back into focus.

    [IMG]

    As far as the legacy of the series, it introduces a new Bond and a new Moneypenny. On Dalton, I've already made my thoughts known. Caroline Bliss had big shoes to step into, and I think she did very well. This marks the last of the original character transitions, considering the Major Boothroyd/Q switch to count, though obviously not the last of the transitions away from an iconic "original" actor -- for that, we have to wait forty years into the series, when John Cleese abortively takes over from Desmond Llewelyn. Like Dalton, Bliss's career was cut short after two movies, and as a result she hasn't had much of a chance to make an impression in the role. Moneypenny, especially, is a hard role to make an impression in -- it took Maxwell twenty-three years, her entire career, to get to an hour of screentime, and she never made it to two hundred words delivered.

    Review

    Dalton's debut is a solid Bond film, a crackling fun adventure. It loses some momentum in the third act, and doesn't have the strong villain a film really needs to send it to the top, but it's doing a lot of other stuff right, and with one movie it puts the Moore run to shame.

    Dalton is a fantastic Bond, giving us a Bond who finally has his edge back. Moore's Bond lacked the dangerousness of Connery's, or for that matter Fleming's, Bond, but Dalton immediately looks like a killer, and proves it with his intense Bond. The cold rage at Saunders's death is unlike anything Moore ever managed, genuinely scary. Moore could never do scary.

    One of the most fun aspects of the film is how fresh it feels. After fifteen Bond films over twenty-five years – a truly staggering run – the Moore films had gotten increasingly stale and formulaic, and you'd expect it to be hard for number fifteen to break that trend. Instead, the film is remarkably innovative. It starts with Bond on a training exercise that turns deadly. It moves to have Bond serve as a counter-sniper protecting the defection of a Soviet officer. Right there, both are a how-come-no-one-ever-thought-of-that-before sort of premise. And they're not even the core of the film – the main storyline is Bond investigating the recapture/false defection of the defector. He puts together the situation almost immediately, poses as a friend to the fake defector's girlfriend-accomplice, and uses her to get to him. It feels new, it feels energetic, it moves through a wealth of ideas rather than straining to repeat a formula.

    The action setpieces are never quite amazing – the airplane fight hanging on to the dangling netting is close – but they're all fairly solid, and I'm especially impressed with Necros's infiltration of the MI6 country house, which gives us a great, intense fight sequence between a secondary character and an extra. The weakest are the finale, in Whitaker's stupid military funhouse, and the ski-car/cello-bobsledding segment of the car chase. Get your Moore holdovers out of my Dalton movie, dammit!

    [IMG]

    Even aside from the handful of Moore-era holdovers and the occasional eightiesness (Q's childlike enthusiasm saves the "ghetto blaster" line, and Moneypenny namechecking Barry Manilow is unintentionally hilarious), the film does have weaknesses that keep it from being top-notch. The villains are weak, first and foremost. Jeroen Krabbe gives a good performance as Koskov, but the character is somewhat misconceived. The idea of the posh, scaredy-cat, fairly effeminate Russian general secretly trying to manipulate the West could have been good, had he been utilized better, but after the solid scene of his defection, he just sort of wanders ineffectively around the movie until the end, with Whitaker frequently dominating their scenes for no good reason. His plan is ultimately sort of silly, too – an extraordinarily complex attempt to deceive the West into killing the head of the KGB so he can . . . not get canned because Pushkin apparently doesn't keep records? The risk-reward ratio here is really not selling me on this plan. What was wrong with just defecting for real, and living comfortably in the West? His co-villain is Whitaker, a horrible character. The concept of the character – an arms dealer so obsessed with his military pretensions that he turns his house into a military museum and goes around pretending to be an officer – is infantile, and Joe Don Baker plays him with the most generic, grating "ugly American" bluster imaginable. As a side character, he'd be awful. As a villain who keeps inexplicably usurping Koskov's lead role for some reason, he's abominable. The good news is that the henchman, headphone-wearing and hilariously Eurotrashy assassin Necros, is good, both scary and with a weird vibe of his own, and able to own his own scenes.

    The other main weakness is that the film goes a little limp once Bond gets captured. It makes no sense that Koskov would want to bring back a man who had full knowledge of his plot just to get credit for bringing Bond in alive, especially when credit for bringing him back dead would be nearly as good, and none of the Afghanistan stuff, aside from the plane fight, really lives up to the rest of the movie. As allies go, Kamran Shah is no Kerim Bey or Tiger Tanaka.

    [IMG]

    There are other nitpicks – we get a Leiter who can't even act, which is below even the usual low standard, and they cast John Rhys-Davies as General Pushkin, and he's totally awesome, but they underuse him – but there are far more strengths. Kara Milovy is a good Bond girl, a young woman duped into being the villain's accomplice, fooled by Bond for information, falling for him as a consequence of their us-against-the-world isolation, then feeling betrayed by his ruse until she realizes that he's a much better man than her boyfriend, and ultimately siding with 007. She's got an arc, she's got a real relationship with Bond, she's extremely pretty – it all works.

    We also get good turns from Q, as always, and a good new Moneypenny. Caroline Bliss's young, glasses-wearing Moneypenny has a bit of a nerd-sexy thing going, and we get a return to having at least one scene that just focuses on Moneypenny and Bond actively flirting. She's got good chemistry with Dalton and a winning long-suffering back-and-forth with Bond that sort of shifts the dynamic from Bond flirting with Moneypenny for his own amusement and because toying with the secretaries is what you do in the sixties, to his having just a little bit of fun with her unrequited crush.

    The Living Daylights is a great start for Dalton. It doesn't have all the pieces in place, but it's fresh, exciting, and energetic, and it features a magnificent take on Bond from Dalton. It immediately establishes that, twenty-five years on, there's still life in the Bond franchise. If only Dalton had gotten a longer run, I think this would be a lot more appreciated.

    Rankings
    1. From Russia with Love
    2. On Her Majesty's Secret Service
    3. Dr. No
    4. For Your Eyes Only
    5. The Living Daylights
    6. The Spy Who Loved Me
    7. Goldfinger
    8. Thunderball
    9. You Only Live Twice
    10. The Man with the Golden Gun
    11. A View to a Kill
    12. Diamonds Are Forever
    13. Octopussy
    14. Live and Let Die
    15. Moonraker
    Questions for discussion

    1. Dalton as Bond: what's your take?
    2. Is it just me, or does the film around him not quite live up to Dalton's Bond?
    3. Dalton seems to take more flack from the general public than any Bond actor other than Lazenby. Why, and is any of it justified?
    4. As an actor transition point, the fifteenth film, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the film series, and the current halfway point of the series timewise, this is the ideal film with which to stop and take inventory. Anyone feel like updating your lists of rankings? Anything to say about the series in a larger perspective so far?
  24. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 10
    1. Dalton as Bond: what's your take?

    He's hands down the best Bond, followed by Daniel Craig. It annoys me that people love CR, QoS and Skyfall but rubbish Licence to Kill, as if they wouldn't be all over it had Craig been Bond. As may be known, I am a bit of a Fleming aficionado :)-B) and I can say each time I re-read the novels I can only see Dalton in the role.

    2. Is it just me, or does the film around him not quite live up to Dalton's Bond?

    It doesn't, but it was written for Moore so there's elements of clownish buffoonery that remains despite the purging. But, it is the first Bond film I've seen and for that I'm fond of it.

    3. Dalton seems to take more flack from the general public than any Bond actor other than Lazenby. Why, and is any of it justified?

    I don't think anyone who criticises Dalton understands why they do, it's just residue from a period when people got the pretty boy Brosnan image wedged in their mind.

    I'm glad you mentioned the Aston Martin V8; I have 4 models from the GE Fabbiri Bond Cars line and they're all Astons but this one I'm particularly fond of. Bloody quick in it's day too.
  25. dp4m Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 2001
    star 10
    Sorry, Ender. I love Dalton as Bond (and, in particular, The Living Daylights) and wanted more of him but thought License to Kill was rubbish too (except for a few scenes and some characters). I also hated Quantum of Solace.

    One of the things about The Living Daylights compared to Moore is there are just some scenes that wouldn't work with Moore (probably would with Connery). Specifically, the scene with Pushkin in his hotel room -- that scene basically only works with Dalton; how rough he is with Pushkin's wife, and violent with Pushkin but internal warring to not kill him (even though we believe he would). "Then I must die..." is earned; plus the next scene with the assassination -- Bond's movements are so much more quick than it would have been with Moore. You get the feeling this guy actually does fieldwork...